One order of Christmas — hold the whiskey and beer. (164 days).

They say the holidays are the hardest times to be sober (Please note: I don’t know who ‘they’ are but ‘they’ are god damned right). It’s fucking hard.

But…

Drum roll please…

I did it.

I survived Christmas (and Christmas Eve) sans alcohol. I mean that alone deserves a drink in itself, right?

I don’t know why ‘they’ say it is one of the hardest times but if I can theorize what makes it hard it is the plethora of Christmas parties and celebrations that typically revolve around alcohol, the stress of presents, traveling, being surrounded by family and the pressure of it all. For some the holiday’s are a cause of depression and loneliness and the thought of being around family is anxiety provoking. Fortunately I actually like both sides of my family and (maybe not fortunately) both sides have recovering alcoholics to whom I flocked to when I was in their presence.

If I am looking back on the ghosts of my Christmas’ past they have been filled with fireball, family, food, fireball (did I say that already) and (damn it I can’t find another word beginning with F) beer. Looking back I can’t remember a Christmas Eve in which I have not drank. Or a Christmas Eve for that matter. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Friends, family and fireball? No? Whoops. Well the holidays to me were about staying warm with some whiskey and beer, drinking into the nights with friends and family and then doing it all over again the next day.

This year instead of drinking I filled my mouth with any and every sweet I could get a hold of. I do not recommend this method but fortunately it worked for me. (Unfortunate for my girlfriend who has to hear me complain about losing my bikini model body and by bikini model body I mean not bikini model at all. Let’s just say I am feeling a little soft around the edges).

Surprisingly I had a lovely Christmas without alcohol. Wait, what did I just say? Sometimes I can’t even believe the shit that comes out of my mouth. Who am I? I don’t even know anymore.

It was relatively hard for me personally as I do still crave an iced cold beer to keep me warm on those baby-its-cold-outside-nights and to be honest to keep my anxiety to a manageable level. But I survived with no booze or freak outs. I should get a mother fucking medal of alcoholic honor.

But anyways, my eight-year-old brother still believes in Santa Claus and we think this may be the last year he believes in Santa (sorry if I just ruined Christmas for you but I feel as though if you are reading a blog about sobriety you should have figured that shit out by now but, if not, let me be the first to tell you that Santa isn’t real and neither is the Easter Bunny. Sorry).  But anyways my point in ruining your life or rather telling you about my brothers belief in Santa is that I tried to surround myself with him most of the time. To see how happy he was about this seasons greetings put me in the Christmas spirit (well his enthusiasm and all the candy, cookies and food I consumed).

I am (or ‘was’ depending on when you read this) fortunate enough to have 16 days off (all for the price of 3) and so the week leading up to Christmas I got to take some time to relax and spend with both my brother and sister doing Christmas crafts (I was more excited than they were) and watching Christmas movies in pajamas and drinking hot cocoa. I felt like Buddy the Elf I was like CHRISTMAS!! This is awesome.

Christmas Eve we had a big slumber party consisting of 10 people, 4 dogs and a cat at my cousins ranch in Jamul. It is legitimately like a compound with three stories, a pool, a tennis court, a sauna and probably a bunch of other cool shit all on over an acre of land. It was lovely. PJs, warm fire (despite it being in the 70s outside), warm house, warm beverages and great food followed by way too many cookies and sweets. Heaven.

The next morning we woke up at the reasonable hour of 5:30 AM. Hell. Luckily for my brother there were no death threats as on Christmas morning and only Christmas morning this is acceptable behavior. Also since I wasn’t nursing a hang over I was already in a better mood. Kate refused to get out of bed and may or may not have mumbled a few fucks and flipped me off all before declaring she would not get up if coffee wasn’t already started. She also told Michael that Santa could hear everything and he should go back to sleep. Despite her relentlessness in trying to go back to bed and make the kid fear that Santa wouldn’t leave him any presents if he didn’t go back to bed — we got coffee started and started opening presents. After just one sip of coffee the Grinch — I mean that beautiful woman I love — was in better spirits.

Again, the best part of the morning was watching Michael open presents and to see the excitement on his face.

Once the presents were opened we all took naps and once we awoke and (still in my Pajamas) Kate and I departed on a little road trip to the bustling and beautiful town of Yuma, Arizona to see my dad and other family. With the two fur animals in tow as well.

We ended up spending Thurs night – Sunday day there and despite an awful display of Chargers “football” I didn’t drink. (Again, it’s pretty easy since my dad is 14 years sober). I had a great time hanging out with my pops and taking the dogs to the desert, reading, shopping, eating (duh), relaxing and drinking coffee. We hiked with my step mom and pops and had a lovely time altogether. I think I only put on real clothes like once and it was only for a short time.

Next up New Years. Bring it. Who wants to be hungover on the first day of the New Year anyway? Not me!

164 days and counting…

stay sober my friends.

sibling sandwich.

sibling sandwich.

family photo. minus the cat.

family christmas photo. minus the cat. (after kate had coffee)

the dogs in the desert.

the dogs in the desert.

hikin in arizona with the family.

hikin in arizona with the family.

step mom, kate, gunner, me and pops.

step mom, kate, gunner, me and pops.

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149 days….

In taking my ex’s advice — about going to AA meetings — I found myself in my usual AA meeting which consists of 20 + gay men and then me. “It’s Brittany bitch” was said about 100 times and I loved every second of it. It was definitely a breath of fresh air to see familiar faces who share the same struggle and to be surrounded by people who are united by a common desire to stay sober.

In that meeting, sadly, when asked if anyone would like to come up and take a 24 hour chip a friend of mine who had 5+ years of sobriety walked up and grabbed one. I was super bummed for him and to be honest, I was shocked. Bringing it back to me because what do alcoholics love to talk about? Themselves. And seeing as I was an only child for 20 years clearly it’s all about me… I feel like I have been putting so much pressure on myself to maintain my sobriety and that in itself stresses me out (and makes me want to fucking drink). In seeing him walk up I thought, here I am on 5 months struggling with not only my own expectations but also others expectations of my sobriety and after 5 years of sobriety he goes up and grabs a 24 hour chip? It had to have been very humbling for him and while I was sad to see him grab that chip, I was also mesmerized by the strength in which it took him to go up and admit that he had fallen after five years.

The thing that made me feel amazing and so overwhelmed with happiness out of all of this is that not one person there shook their heads, batted an eye or judged him. Open arms welcomed him back into sobriety. Smiles, hugs and ass grabs were aplenty. And, although sad, it was truly an awe inspiring experience to see that much acceptance in one room.

I am truly happy that I went as I realized (and am realizing) that this is such a personal journey and to be honest this meeting relieved a lot of internal pressure in which I was placing on myself. You can’t do this for anyone else but you and you can’t try to live up to others expectations of how you should conduct yourself in your own sobriety. You have to do it for you and on your terms. And guess what? If you fuck up, fuck it. Shit happens. Who cares what other people may say or think because ultimately it’s not about them. It’s about you wanting to be the best version of you.

Leave it to a bunch of gay alcoholics and drug addicts to make me feel so at peace and at home.

stay sober my friends.

143 days…

Well … I survived my first work holiday party completely sober. It only took 6 Shirley Temples and 25 awkward conversations with co-workers. But lo and behold I survived the party and the next morning I wasn’t hung over. I repeat I wasn’t hung over after a work holiday party. I still can’t believe it myself.

As mentioned in my last post I have really been struggling with my own sobriety. As I was scouring the interwebs to read about others experiences with their first six months of sobriety I saw that an ex boyfriend of mine was online. (Yes you read that right I said boyfriend. I did used to date men but much like quitting alcohol I quit them too). Anyways, I reached out to him to chat about being sober as, when when we were dating years ago, he was in his first year of sobriety. He now has seven years of sobriety. Holy fuck.

Knowing what I know now in my own sobriety I feel so bad for him. I was 23 living in a new city and and was throwing back makers mark/diet cokes like they were going out of style. (Note: They did go out of style — since living in Santa Barbara I haven’t been able to touch brown liquor and I cringe just thinking about it). He was newly sober and going to meetings and in love with someone who was thrilled at the idea of having a designated designated driver and who didn’t give much thought to sobriety. I especially didn’t give any thought to his personal recovery and sobriety and how hard it must have been for him to go out to so many bars and be involved in so many things that revolved around drinking. Mainly because I was too busy drinking. Duh.

Anyways, I asked him how he maintained his sobriety (and continues to), if it is hard for him and if he ever early on in his sobriety felt down or the blues. (And probably 25 other questions as, if you know me, I always do.) Well they say misery loves company (like an alcoholic loves a drink) and so for me it was good to hear that he, too, had his bouts of being down and his troubles in maintaining sobriety in a society in which alcohol is so prevalent. How does he maintain sobriety? One day at a time. And meetings. He told me, especially in the beginning, lots of fucking meetings. (Lord only knows how he stayed sober when he was dating me as thinking about dating myself makes even me want to drink. A lot.)

To be honest I haven’t been going to meetings. I got my 60 day chip and haven’t been back since then.

Well, it has been 143 days (83 since I had gone to a meeting) and with Thanksgiving here and gone and the holidays quickly approaching (P.S. at first run through I put “fastly approaching” and then realized that “fastly” is not really a word and then I wondered how I ever graduated from college with a degree in English nonetheless) but anyways, I find myself in a bout of holiday blues. Or at least that’s what I am hoping it is.

Truth be told since I have gotten sober I have found myself down. This shit ain’t no walk in the mother fucking park for me. (I don’t even like to walk in the park.) Is it because before I would have a beer or two to take the load off and forget my problems? Perhaps.

I’ll break it down.

Month 1 1/2: down and didn’t want to seemingly leave the house. Maybe I was just embarrassed or not comfortable not drinking. Poor poor me pour me another drink. Thank god for delivery and Netflix.

Month 2 (end of) and Month 3 (all): I felt fucking great! I was like: I got this. This shit is easy.

I’m the King of the World!! Woo Hoo! However, shortly thereafter that high, much like Jack, my happy Titanic-sized-sober ship sank and that selfish bitch Rose pushed me off the plank of wood (that could very well have held both of us on it) and I again saw myself slowly plummeting into the depths of the dark cold abyss of the unforgiving sea … or rather a little bout of the blues. Did I mention in addition to having ADD I am kind of dramatic?

Month 4: I have had my share of ups and downs. I have put myself in situations in which lots of people say to avoid in early sobriety. Now everyone’s sobriety is different and some can do the same things they did while drinking while others cannot. For me personally, I have put myself in situations, especially as of late, in which alcohol would have been consumed. Now I’m not even counting family holidays like Thanksgiving, those dreaded work dinners or even my own birthday as situations they say to avoid, I’m talking Halloween parties, friends birthdays, a charity event at a wine bar, going out to bars with friends. Those are situations that I willingly put myself in knowing that it was going to be a struggle to not drink. I’ve come out the other end sober and not hung over. (So why do I still eat too much Mexican food and unhealthy food like I’m drunk and/or hungover?) That’ll be my next vice to give up.

These past two weeks I have, again, felt myself getting a little down. (It doesn’t help that I have had some major life changes occur, I’ll touch more on that in the right time and date.) So with that said, I think I am going to take the advice given to me and surround myself with people who are in the same struggle. With people who understand. I am going to go back to meetings and try to immerse myself within AA starting tonight. Maybe I’ll even start to meditate. I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.

stay sober my friends.

136 days…and this shit ain’t easy…

Warning: I am not funny in this post and I only say ‘fuck’ like once or twice. You have been warned.

136 days.

One day at a time.

Honestly, I have contemplated and have been contemplating whether or not I will drink in the future. I feel like I would be letting a lot of people down if I did drink and people would judge me but ultimately this is my journey and my life and I can’t live it according to anyone or other people’s perceptions.

I know that alcohol hasn’t brought me and doesn’t with it bring happiness. It’s brought more headaches (literally) than it has laughs. I know that there is so much more to life beyond alcohol. My personal journey in sobriety is a testament to that. I have not been hungover once (except maybe food hangovers) and have actually enjoyed the days, nights and activities in which alcohol was so prominent before.

Most of the time, for me, drinking is some sort of escape to forget about life’s pressures, anxieties, fears, uncertainties etc. It’s a way to let loose. But why can’t I have fun, forget and let loose without it? I am learning I can. Even knowing that for the most part drinking is some sort of escape doesn’t make it less hard to not partake in drinking whether it’s in celebration or sorrow. At times I find myself so badly wishing I was able to have a beer or two with friends, have a drink at party, and have champagne to toast. I find myself so badly wanting to find some sort of moderation that others seem to have – but I just know that I am not there yet.

It doesn’t make it any easier that alcohol is everywhere. Everywhere. And the association with it is everywhere as well. If I think of it as forever it becomes a little overwhelming so I literally have to take it one day at a time and those days have added up to 136. I know I want to be sober now, today, and I know I won’t drink, today. I have been thrown some pretty tough situations in my first (almost) 5 months of sobriety (work dinners, parties, holidays, weddings…). But the more I think about it the more I realize this is just fucking life. Holidays, weddings, parties, work, birthdays, and celebrations – they will always occur. There will always be an excuse to drink or an association with alcohol for me in those situations. I guess what I’m trying to say is that whether or not I decide to drink, those situations will continue to occur. Those situations are just an excuse (for me) to drink.

I find myself having ADD even more so than before. At parties or whatever I can’t sit still. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a drink in my hand. Or I’m not comfortable not having a drink in my hand? I suffer from anxiety and bouts of depression and I’m hoping to peel some of the layers that alcohol has seemingly been a band aid for to determine the underlying cause and hopefully fix it. It’s hard when your go to (alcohol) is no longer there and you are stuck in a room with just yourself and your doubts and fears and worries and there is no escape (alcohol) or means to cope or a buffer. You are forced to think. To be present. To deal. It’s scary and it’s hard. We weren’t given a guide to life and this shit ain’t easy. I’m hoping to find a way of coping and dealing with my own anxieties and fears and doubts that doesn’t involve the consumption of alcohol. So far, I have been able to do so.

I know that I am not alone in this struggle and I truly commend those that have been sober, are trying to get sober, and are sober. It’s not easy to eliminate the one thing that many, if not most people, go to for everything. Think of a time when alcohol was not present to celebrate an achievement. To celebrate a holiday. To celebrate a birthday. To celebrate a union. Think of a time when alcohol was not present to help congratulate someone. To reward yourself or someone for a job well done. To help ease your mind after a hard day of work. To comfort someone in a time of loss or sadness.

It’s not easy to maintain sobriety in a society that seemingly relies on alcohol for every emotion.

I would like to welcome anyone (alcoholic or not) to have a sober December.

Rant over.

stay sober my friends.